Nuxalk Apprenticeship Program: Building New Homes and Skills

Like other First Nations across the country, Nuxalk’s housing situation was profoundly impacted by government-imposed housing standards that community members said were unfit for wet weather conditions and their social and cultural realities.

To deal with the need for renovations and new housing, especially for single occupants, the Nation started a
community-based housing apprenticeship program, led by Richard Hall and in partnership with Camosun College.

Hall is a red seal carpenter and a certified building inspector, who worked for Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Canada, inspecting First Nations’ housing across the province, on and off reserve, for more than a decade.

The conditions Hall witnessed appalled him and he decided it was time to move back home to Bella Coola and put his expertise and experience back into the community. He hooked up with Camuson College, which helped with funding for students to enroll, and the apprenticeship program was born.

The program connects apprentices with skilled community workers, trained and equipped to build sustainable housing for the Nuxalk community. It has cut the need for outside contractors and consultants, and brings skilled workers and young people back home, providing more jobs and a brighter future for the whole community.

As a part of the program, the Nation has built six homes for single occupancy, complete with solar panels, new triplexes for families, a new restaurant and has plans to build a new big house. They’ve managed to minimize costs and maximize the value of these homes, using as many of their own local resources and materials as possible, transforming the community in more ways than one.